You don’t have to go full Paleo to get excited about the health benefits of protein. The fact is, protein is a critical part of every single diet, whether you’re gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, raw, or low-carb.
Everyone needs protein and a significant amount of it every day, particularly if you’re a fitness enthusiast, expecting mother, or young child.
Fortunately, protein comes in all shapes, flavors, textures, and varieties. So no matter what your diet preferences are, there are protein sources that are just right. From beans to nuts, seeds, , avocados, and even leafy greens like kale, all contain healthy protein sources. Of course, so do animal products from eggs and fish to meats and dairy products. But what exactly does protein do for you?
Here are seven health benefits of protein:
- Healthy brain function. We associate protein with muscle mass and strong bodies, but it’s most useful in keeping our brains functioning and healthy.
- Aids in sleep. If you toss and turn all night, a lack of protein may be to blame. (Did you know it’s why warm milk before bed has been a longstanding home remedy?)
- It builds muscle. This is key whether you hit the gym on the reg or not. Muscles keep our bodies moving and working; we all need muscle mass and we all need protein to get it.
- It may help with weight loss goals. Weight loss is typically the result of several different factors working all together: staying active, staying hydrated, enough sleep. Making sure you have enough protein can help your body stay fueled for workouts and, as noted above, increase your muscle mass, which will hopefully edge out that excess fat.
- For women, this one is especially important. Protein aids with bone density, a key factor in fighting off osteoporosis. It also helps in strong teeth that can resist decay.
- Speeds healing. Nicks, cuts, or bruises that take forever to heal may be the result of not enough protein. Protein helps tissue and cartilage to heal faster.
- A longer life? While there are many factors that play a role in one’s lifespan, ensuring enough protein is in your diet each day plays a crucial role in fighting off diseases that may shorten your life.
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